If there’s one thing more difficult to deal with than a pimple, it’s the dark spot a zit leaves behind. No matter how much vitamin C oils and depigmentation serums you may slather on your face, those pesky little brown spots can take weeks (if not months) to fully fade. Well, we may have found our depigmentation savior, and it’s been in some of our least favorite candies: licorice root.
Yes, the medicinal-tasting root is actually one of the best skincare ingredients for blasting away any dark spots and post-acne blemishes on your complexion. “Licorice is a super-powerful ingredient within skincare, in fact over 300 polyphenols have been isolated from licorice,” says Tracy May Harriott, Global Director of Education & Brand Ambassador of Priori Skincare. “That’s an abundance of natural benefits that possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, soothing and depigmenting properties.”
According to Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, dermatologist and author of Beyond Soap, licorice also contains a powerhouse component called Glycyrrhiza glabra, which has powerful antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory benefits. “It has been likened to the effects of cortisol,” Dr. Skotnicki says. “This is why licorice has been used to treat inflammatory conditions like psoriasis and eczema.”
Another component of licorice that can help clear your complexion is glabridin. ”Glabridin normalizes the production of melanin, making it superior for treating brown marks and pigmentation on the skin and leads to a uniform, illuminated skin tone,” says Harriott. She also notes that licorice’s power goes beyond pigmentation issues: if you have oily skin, she recommends incorporating this balancing ingredient to help regulate oil production on your face. A more even complexion, without an oily feel? We’ll take that.
Dr. Skotnicki also notes that licorice contains Glycyrrhizin, an active component in licorice root that gives it its pungent flavor. This active also has strong anti-inflammatory activity that acts as a natural alternative to cortisol and steroids. “Steroids are commonly used drugs in treating inflammatory dermatologic conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis,” says Dr. Skotnicki.
Victoria Fu and Gloria Wu, the cosmetic chemist duo behind Chemist Confessions, are also major fans of licorice for its versatility. “Licorice is a pretty vanilla, so should be suitable for all skin types,” they say. But, as with all new ingredients in your skincare routine, they recommend patch testing before applying it over your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Ready to give licorice a try in your skincare routine? Then check out our favorite licorice-infused skincare products, below.
Murad Essential-C Toner
Stressed out skin? Then grab this licorice-infused toner, which also contains a whole cocktail of skincare goodies to balance, rejuvenate, and nourish your face in a single spritz.
Joanna Vargas Bright Eye Hydrating Mask
Let’s be real: who doesn’t love a good face mask? But if you don’t have time to walk around with a full sheet mask on your face, then give your undereyes a little bit of TLC with this eye mask. It helps ease puffiness with licorice’s anti-inflammatory properties, for a more lively look—even if you’ve been up all night.
Fresh Peony Brightening Night Treatment Mask
Don’t you wish you could just wake up with great skin? Well now you can, thanks to this overnight mask. Just slather it on before bed, and catch some zzz’s—seriously, it’s that easy.
First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Resurfacing Liquid 10% AHA
This leave-on chemical exfoliator is packed with AHAs and licroice to even out your complexion, while ridding your complexion of any flakiness and unwanted texture. The results: a glowing, even, velvety-smooth complexion.
Eminence Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster Serum
To give yourself the ultimate dose of licorice root, grab this serum. It’s packed with our favorite natural skincare ingredient to rapidly remove any signs of dark spots and acne scars while boosting your natural radiance. It’s basically a cure-all in a teeny bottle!
Priori Illumination Treatment
This skin-clarifying treat is one of Harriott’s top for it’s balancing and brightening effects. If you have a lackluster, dull look, then a few drops of this will give your skin the glow you’ve been craving.
Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner
This K-Beauty favorite is beloved by tons of skincare junkies (including the Chemist Confessions duo!) for its star ingredient: licorice. Its pH-balanced formula helps regulate your skin, while licorice water works to brighten and clarify your complexion.
Grown Alchemist Brightening Serum: Phyto-Complex & Rumex Leaf Extract
This serum may feel super lightweight on your skin, but it’s filled with a hefty dose of some of our favorite complexion refiners: licorice for it’s brightening effects, and the ultra-moisturizing hyaluronic acid for a smoother, clearer look.